On the European and UK rugby front preparations for the Six Nations tournament of 2014 is gathering momentum, with news trickling through of injuries at this stage ruling some players out of the start of the Six Nations whilst others might miss the whole tournament.
England fullback / wing Ben Foden will likely miss only the start of the Six Nations, with a knee injury suffered for Northampton on the weekend against Newcastle.
England and Wasps wing, Christian Wade is out for 6 months after suffering a foot injury against London Irish over the past weekend.
Wales scrumhalf and “naughty boy” who was axed by Bayonne, Mike Phillips has reportedly signed a two and a half year deal with Racing Metro in France and will be available from Tuesday 3 December 2013.
England fullback cum wing Ben Foden is set to miss the start of the Six Nations after suffering a knee injury while playing for Premiership side Northampton.
The 28-year-old Foden suffered the setback in the Saints’ 18-0 win over Newcastle last month.
And Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said Foden wasn’t likely to return until February at the earliest, with the Six Nations starting in the first weekend of that month.
“I think it will be around the 12-week mark that Ben will be out for,” Mallinder told the European Rugby Cup website.
“It’s very unfortunate for him,” added Mallinder. “He’s very confident he can get back before then, he’s always positive, which is good, so we’ll have to see how that goes.
“He’s in a positive frame of mind. It could have been worse, it could have been better. Ben is a quick healer but you cannot rush these things.”
Foden has fallen down the England pecking order at fullback behind incumbent Mike Brown and Alex Goode.
But his versatility saw him win his 34th Test cap as a wing in England’s most recent international – last month’s 22-30 defeat by world champions New Zealand at Twickenham.
He joins an England injury list that includes back row Tom Croft, centre Manu Tuilagi, Northampton prop Alex Corbisiero, lock Geoff Parling and wing Christian Wade, all of whom are set for lengthy spells on the sidelines.
For Northampton, he will miss several upcoming European Cup group matches including the double-header against Ireland’s three-time European champions Leinster and the final home clash with French Top 14 champions Castres.
England and London Wasps wing Christian Wade faces up to six months on the sidelines following an injury to his foot sustained in Saturday’s game against London Irish.
Wade will have surgery to repair significant ligament damage to his mid-foot area, which will rule him out of selection for next year’s Six Nations.
London Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It is devastating news for both the player and the club. Christian was hugely unlucky to miss out on being capped this November with England and he had hoped to push on and put in some good performances for Wasps to get him in contention for Six Nations selection.
“It is a huge blow for him but he is a young player with a huge future and his time will come around again.”
In Wade’s absence, Wasps’ wing options have been boosted by Tom Varndell’s full return to training this week. He is likely to be available for selection for the club’s next home game on December 15.
Mike Phillips signs for Racing Metro:
British and Irish Lions and Wales scrumhalf Mike Phillips has signed for Racing-Metro, the French Top 14 club confirmed on Monday.
Earlier in the day, club president Jacky Lorenzetti had announced the 31-year-old was close to penning a deal.
But the club then issued a statement, saying: “Racing Metro 92 is happy to announce the signature today (Monday) of Welsh international Mike Phillips.
“For several months, Racing has been negotiating with Phillips and his agents with the aim of recruiting him for the 2014-15 season.
“The recent events in Bayonne have only precipitated his signature.”
Phillips was dismissed by another top-flight French side, Bayonne, in late October for allegedly being drunk when he turned up for a video analysis session.
He denies the charges and has launched legal proceedings against the Basque side.
He has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal and officially joins the club on Tuesday.
“He will be available for selection for this Saturday’s European Cup fixture against Harlequins in Nantes,” said Racing.
Phillips, who played for Wales in their just-concluded November Test matches against southern hemisphere sides, has played 80 times for his country and also made five appearances for the combined Lions side, including two on their successful tour to Australia in June and July.
He will face tough opposition for a place in the starting line-up with France international Maxime Machenaud currently in the No.9 shirt, backed by Laurent Magnaval, Sebastien Descons and South African Ruan Snyman.
Racing also announced on Monday the beginning of construction on a new 32,000-seater stadium to be built in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.